Investing in the future of post-secondary education

By Dr. Adrienne Galway

As Ontario confronts the short- and long-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, colleges have a pivotal role to play in retraining displaced workers and filling key vacancies. 

At George Brown College, we’re preparing the next generation of healthcare and community workers, construction managers, skilled tradespeople, business leaders and more –  workers who are essential to Ontario’s economic and social recovery. But in order to continue to respond quickly to meet the needs of Ontario’s economy, we need support from our governments, partners and donors. 

With this year’s shift to remote teaching and learning, George Brown has made significant investments in new technology and faculty training. This investment has allowed students to continue building the skills they need to enter the labour market. But it’s also meant increased costs at a time when our college is experiencing financial strain due to lower enrolment, program cancellations, and the costs of PPE and other safety measures needed to ensure a safe return to campus.  Government support is essential in weathering this storm, and delivering the practical job training that Ontarians need to get our economy back on track. 

We were heartened to see the provincial government commit $59.5 million over three years to support Ontario’s first micro-credentials strategy, as part of the “recover” pillar of its fall 2020 budget. This is important recognition of the value of upskilling and retraining in the new economy, and the role that specialized, short-duration programs can play. The new funding will strengthen partnerships between post-secondary institutions, training providers and employers, and allow more people who are unemployed to acquire specific skills to help them return to the workforce.  The government will release details in the coming months on how this funding will be allocated and the college will be developing proposals for any potential funding call. 

We were also pleased to see that the province is investing in facilities renewal and capital projects at colleges. While most of our teaching and learning is taking place remotely right now, this won’t always be the case. We must continue to plan for our future return to campus and recognize that building strong and sustainable infrastructure is an important part of our community’s recovery.  

While much has changed throughout 2020, our overall purpose as a college has not: we’re here to turn learning into opportunity. George Brown graduates are the heartbeat of Toronto, working to keep our families healthy, our infrastructure running and the economy moving.

In these challenging times, it’s more important than ever that our governments, employers and post-secondary institutions work together to prepare the highly skilled workers our economy needs, and support the recovery of our province.  

As Special Advisor to the President of George Brown College, Dr. Adrienne Galway oversees academic quality, government relations and corporate communications.